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Buying a Mobile Thermal Label & Receipt Printer

insignia offers a wide range of mobile thermal label and receipt printers. Our leading global brands, including Zebra, Honeywell, Datamax-O’Neil an Bixolon, each provide a choice of models within their ranges for varied printing applications. So, if you are making the move to mobile printing how do you choose the best printer for your business?

As the demand from consumers continues to grow many businesses are upgrading to mobile printers to improve efficiency and increase output. Whether you're in the warehouse needing barcode or shipping labels or a field service team requiring on-the-spot receipts, mobile printers allow on demand printing of labels or receipts wherever they are required, boosting employee productivity and reducing the likelihood of error.

The challenge with these mobile printers is that potential productivity gains aren’t easily compared between different mobile printers on the market. Even the same mobile printer used in a slightly different environment or in conjunction with different equipment can present vastly different levels of productivity gains.


On demand label and receipt printing whereever you are

There are a wide range of mobile printer brands and models on the market and each are designed to suit different applications. If you're looking to upgrade to a mobile printer solution there are a number of factors you should first consider before making the investment, such as the application, connectivity and media. insignia partner with leading global brands to offer a wide range of mobile thermal label and receipt printing solutions, so you can choose the right device for you.


What is the application and operational environment?

There are two key considerations to make about the mobile printer application before making the investment. Firstly, are you printing labels or receipts? While some mobile printer models print labels and receipts, others are only capable of printing receipts.

Secondly, what environment will the device be used in? It's essential to ensure the ruggedness and the printer size and weight are are suitable for the environment it will be used in, so it is neither under nor over-spec'd.


Ruggedness is an extremely important quality, even for mobile printers used in retail or carpeted environments, because drops, spills and rough handling are routine. Failing to safeguard against these threats will result in lost productivity, the inability to complete necessary tasks and reduced service levels.

While the design of most models will offer some protection against falls, the higher-end models will be more robust offering greater protection, and some even guard against dust and water spray (IP54-rated).

Printer Size and Weight

Mobile printers are designed to be compact. If the printer is to be worn by a team member on a belt clip or shoulder strap it needs to be light-weight enough for the operator’s comfort.

Also, to keep the size to a minimum, mobile printers require media with fewer labels per roll than traditional desktop label printers, which means more frequent roll changes.


Choosing to right label and receipt rolls for your device

When printing labels, it is also important to consider the width of the label to be printed. Label size varies with each model of printer, some smaller models have the ability to print maximum width of 2 inches or 50mm, while others will print up to 4 inches or 102 mm. If you need to print logistics labels for major freight carriers such as Toll or StarTrack, or for Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) or the Australia Transport Label (ATL), the labels measure 4” wide x 6” long (102mm x 148mm).

For receipt printing, portable printers are available in 2”, 3”, 4” print-widths. Consider the required lifespan of the printed receipt, as inferior quality receipt paper can have a shorter lifespan.

Additionally, some low-grade receipt rolls can be more abrasive, causing excessive wear on the printhead, potentially shortening its life. insignia recommends OEM certified receipt paper.

insignia provides its customers with the complete printing package. We ensure your labels or receipts are fit-for-purpose, backed by expertise in thermal paper stock, adhesive, barcodes, production environments and supply chain equirements.


How to Connect to the  Mobile Printer

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless infrastructure will be required for large warehouse-type spaces, and multiple wireless points will ensure minimal black spots or no-coverage areas. If mobile printing is required outdoors or in the field, you will need to consider a Bluetooth model that can connect to your 3G or 4G device.

ERP & WMS Software

Typically, specific mobile applications for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are available through your ERP or WMS provider. These mobile versions can be installed on to a mobile computer that would be used in conjunction with your mobile printer, allowing you to generate labels and or receipts as per your full ERP or WMS software.


Avoid downtime by ensuring your devices are always charged

The majority of mobile printers come with Lithium ion batteries which means they can be part charged without affecting the battery lifespan, similar to most new smart phones.

Generally mobile printers are designed to last throughout an 8-hour working day. However it is recommended that you have spare batteries or charging units available so batteries can be swapped out easily, and avoid the risk of downtime.

  • Dock chargers - allow the printer to be charged without removing the battery. These come in multi-bays to charge multiple units at a time, and are recommended as the printer storage point so they are continually charging when not in use.
  • Battery chargers – also available in bays. The battery is removed from the printer for charging and multiple batteries can be charged at once.
  • Spare battery - always useful to have as a backup for any mobile worker.
  • Cigarette lighter chargers – most field mobility workers have one of these in their car/truck for easy charging.
  • Battery eliminators - provides a facility to run the printer continuously from a forklift or car battery (Note an auto electrician is generally required for installation).

What about warranty?

Warranty is an important element to any buying decision. Each manufacturer backs their printers with different levels of warranty coverage. All printers come standard with a minimum 12-month manufacturer’s warranty, though some have longer warranty periods, depending on the make and model of the printer.

  • Standard warranty – includes all manufacturing faults within the printer over the specified warranty contract period.
  • Extended warranty – available for most makes and models at an additional cost (and only available at the time of purchase).
  • Comprehensive warranty – coverage for all manufacturing faults as well as accidental damage to the printer and its components.


Are there any on-going costs?

It is wise to consider operating expenses as a part of the total cost of ownership. The purchase price of a printer and the cost of its supplies are only a small measure of its true cost. Performance issues that limit productivity drive up the cost of mobile printers, so reliability and expected maintenance costs should also be considered.

Rugged mobile printers often have a higher list price than common commercial models, but have longer life cycles and are more resistant to damage, which results in lower repair costs and work interruptions. Those that perform reliably and minimize the time users spend waiting for labels and receipts will provide superior value.

Similar to replacing your car’s tyres from time to time, there are some parts of a printer which will need to be replaced due to general wear and tear. The key
consumable parts within any thermal printer (mobile or standard) are the platen roller (a plastic roller which ensures the label is being applied to the print head with
pressure) and also the print head.

Prices on these parts are dependent on the printer make and model. insignia stocks a full range of replacement parts, and these parts should be installed by a qualified service technician either on-site or at the insignia national service centre.


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